|We are ecological builders.
We offer the following services:
• The design and construction of new cob and strawbale walls and buildings.
• Sensitive restoration of ancient and listed buildings including full repairs to existing cob walls, minor patching and total rebuild.
• Plastering, rendering and lime washing in appropriate materials including earth and lime plasters.
• Garden design and construction including cobbling, stonewalling and decorative and functional garden structures made out of cob such as bread ovens, courtyards and benches.
We are sensitive builders; when we work on a project we aim to:
• Leave the site as clean or cleaner than when before we started.
• Use as many materials from the site on the site - clay for cob walls; stone; some timber.
• We investigate the environmental impact of all products that we use.
• The work we do needs patience, both from the client and ourselves.
|Our Guide to using Particular Products
For building products, we choose those with the least 'embodied energy' where costs permit. Products closer to their natural state are always a preferential choice - they invariably require less energy to produce (ie have less 'embodied energy')-so for instance, for flooring we would choose tongue & groove timber boards over chipboard every time.
Another rule of thumb we use is to look at local cottages built before the industrial revolution. All such buildings are models of low embodied energy' houses. Thatch, cob walls, lime etc are all class leaders in terms of their environmental impact. We use Portland cement sparingly: its good for groundworks, but otherwise we use limes. Lime plasters and paints use a fraction of the energy when compared to Portland Cement or synthetic paints, but limes need many more coats before having an acceptable finish.
We avoid plastic products.
We avoid treated (ie poisoned timber) in most circumstances. Rather we rely on native timbers that are naturally durable (e.g. oak ) and good detailing (ie the timber should be able to breath and hence dry out). If we have to treat timber, we use Borax based products. Internal timbers that feel the benefit of a houses heating need no treatment at all. Timber will only be attacked by insects if it is relatively damp.
We will use treated timbers on external wall plates for houses and garden walls.
We never use imported hardwoods, whether they be from North America, West Africa or Brazil.
We use native timbers where they are seen -in a roof, for instance, or on a floor. Otherwise for studwork or common rafters in a roof, we use the cheapest imported timbers. Native grown softwood -ie Douglas Fir or Larch- is up to four times as expensive as imported softwood, and so we will only use this when instructed to do so by the client. Insulation products are very important in housing developments now, but ironically these are definitely the most environmentally damaging building products. We will not use isocyanates that use ozone depleting blowing agents (ie HCFCs) at all. Preferably we would use sheep's wool or cellulose (recycled newspaper) but these are up to four times as expensive as mineral wool.
The final way we think we can minimise our impact is to do a small number of jobs per year with plenty of detail and uniqueness. If we make a beautiful object it will not only survive for many years, but it will satisfy the onlooker and reduce the craving for the next object. Good craftsmanship has durability beyond fashionable crazes.